As expected, ‘Tenet’ is similar in form and content to Nolan’s previous works: poor visuals, poor audio, poor dialogue, poor characters, poor story, poor action sequences, and poor philosophizing, but decent concepts.
Nolan’s hand-held shooting style has never been better yet it remains all too disorienting (Nolan’s split second shots and discontinuous editing style are still frustratingly abysmal, arguably among the worst in all of Hollywood). However, the muted colour palette (with its heavy reliance on beige, black, white, and gray) lends itself well to the films content (i.e. dialogue, characters, story) in its straight-forward, matter of fact, emotionally disconnected approach.
Nolan seriously needs to hire Skywalker Sound (or some other decent audio design company) to record, edit, and mix the audio in his films because every one of his films from the past like 15 years has been horrendous when it comes to audio design. Muffled voices and deafening noises are among the many examples of distorted and volume-inconsistent audio in Nolan’s filmography (it doesn’t help that Nolan loves to put masks on his characters, exaggerating the already existing problems exponentially).
The central concept of ‘Tenet’ (time inversion) is utilized best when Nolan takes a bifurcated structural approach (i.e. Oslo Airport the first time vs the second time, Sator’s temporal pincer movement where he shoots Kat (including the events leading up to it and following it)). This allows the scenes to play out in a way that is involving and satisfactory despite being fairly predictable (you can kind of guess that the Protagonist and Neil are fighting versions of themselves at the Oslo Airport but its still pretty neat to see it play out).
All things considered, ‘Tenet’ is the most balanced and focused that Nolan has been in years. The marriage of form and content in ‘Tenet’ is far beyond any of Nolan’s other action films. Nonetheless, the film’s style is nowhere near enough to make up for the lack of substance (the film’s style is pretty shitty too but it is definitely a case of “style over substance”).
‘Tenet’ is arguably Nolan’s best film since ‘Memento’.
4/10 – Deficient